The Entrepreneur Forum | Startups | Entrepreneurship | Starting a Business | Motivation | Success

REAL ESTATE When improving the nbhd is like shooting yourself in the foot

hazelwood

PARKED
Dec 9, 2007
6
0
8
When I was younger I lived in a town with a high proportion of rentals, mostly occupied by students at a nearby college. There was a middle-aged guy who had come to town as a student, never got ahead, and was watching the world pass him by. He had lived in town for maybe 25 years, the last 10 or 15 at the same address, and was very concerned about ongoing efforts to improve the neighborhood.

He said people at his income level normally ended up in the ghetto and he desperately wanted to avoid that - he'd gladly continue to put up with the problems of a student rental neighborhood to avoid the ghetto.

He considered himself a "permanent renter" who was "living on the economic margin" with "no hope of buying a home". He came to neighborhood association meetings and the rest of us regarded him as a sort of neighborhood Luddite, trying to gum up the works of progress. He said he had seen all but one of his neighborhood friends forced out of town by rising rents, and the one who remained was able to buy a home before the rents got too high.

He said he was "all in favor of improving the neighborhood" as long as it didn't make him worse off financially. He said he wasn't part of the problem and wasn't able or willing to pay for a solution. After all, he said, what's the use of spending time and effort to improve your neighborhood if you get priced out and can't enjoy the fruits of your labor? He would ask whether any of the rest of us would get up in the morning and go to work if there was no payoff at the end of the week - why would anyone shoot themselves in the foot?.

We didn't know what to say to the guy - nothing we said seemed to placate him. What would you say? Improving the neighborhood is good for investors and homeowners, but is it good for the renter on the margin?
 

Don't like ads? Remove them while supporting the forum. Subscribe.

Last edited:

Bilgefisher

Bronze Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Aug 29, 2007
1,849
285
73
Aurora, Co
I'm not sure I follow entirely. Your friend is upset about the rising prices in the neighborhood, but is also unwilling to do anything financially to improve his own situation? I don't see how he can expect to improve a neighborhood and not expect rents to rise. Perhaps I am not understanding what you getting at?
 
OP
OP
H

hazelwood

PARKED
Dec 9, 2007
6
0
8
He said he was willing to help as long as it didn't cost him any money, because he didn't have any money and couldn't afford it - wasn't there something he could do that wouldn't cost him any money? (The students were able to afford living there because they were subsidized by parents and financial aid.)

He saw rents going up and up while all the neighborhood improvement didn't seem to be costing homeowners anything. He saw himself paying more to rent a small upstairs apartment than his next door neighbor paid to own a house. (At the time, homeowners were gloating over a large property tax cut from which renters did not benefit - a new tax on commercial and rental property was created which negated the tax cut.)

He didn't see why he should have to pay more and more while homeowners didn't. Under those conditions, he said it made no sense for renters to enlist for the "privilege" of paying more to get nothing in return, while homeowners got the benefit without having to pay anything.

All this was in the context of an ongoing regulatory effort to tighten restrictions on rentals, which he saw as further driving up rents and gouging renters for the benefit of homeowners. Since he believed he was not part of the problem, he thought he was being asked to pay far more than his fair share for a solution.
 

yveskleinsky

Bronze Contributor
Speedway Pass
Jul 26, 2007
2,233
496
192
42
Why are you concerned about a guy you knew from when you were growing up? ...I wouldn't spend an ounce of time trying to chance someone else's mindset- especially if the event was in the past!
 
OP
OP
H

hazelwood

PARKED
Dec 9, 2007
6
0
8
This wasn't while I was growing up, I was on the neighborhood association board at the time. But I think it's an interesting perspective and if you look at it from that angle, there doesn't seem to be much in it for renters.

I couldn't find any major flaws in it, do you?
 

Jorge

Bronze Contributor
Oct 5, 2007
583
103
32
37
Mendoza, Argentina
I don't understand the meaning of the post....the guy want's to pay less rent but live in a better neighborhood?

I don't think its a logical way to see things, I think the guy could focus his attention in being wealth enough to decide where to live.

If he doesnt like to think/speak about wealth, he shouldn't be complaining in the first place.
 
OP
OP
H

hazelwood

PARKED
Dec 9, 2007
6
0
8
I don't understand the meaning of the post....the guy want's to pay less rent but live in a better neighborhood?

I don't think its a logical way to see things, I think the guy could focus his attention in being wealth enough to decide where to live.

If he doesnt like to think/speak about wealth, he shouldn't be complaining in the first place.
He said he was paying more than the homeowner next door; if so, he was probably paying more than a lot of the homeowners in the neighborhood who were complaining the loudest about the rentals and the need to reduce the number of rentals. He thought he was paying more than his fair share while the homeowners were underpaying, esp in regard to property taxes. The rentals did not reduce property values, they increased property values, because the houses rented for far more than anyone would pay to own them. He said he had lived in town longer than most of the homeowners, and who were they to run him out of town because he didn't own a home? He said the homeowners didn't like the way the free market was operating, and decided to use government to trump the market to achieve the desired result. He seemed to think he was stuck in a low-wage job and couldn't do much to improve his position, and why shouldn't he have the opportunity to own the roof over his head instead of just doing all the work to make someone else wealthy?
 

Jorge

Bronze Contributor
Oct 5, 2007
583
103
32
37
Mendoza, Argentina
I'm sorry, but I don't think I can provide any useful input on this thread, if I'm understanding well, it seems so slow-lane thinking to me...
 

Russ H

Gold Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
Jul 25, 2007
6,556
1,292
381
58
Napa Valley, CA
DISCLAIMER: I will start by saying that you've only told us a few things about this guy.

You are asking for our opinions, and what we would have done/said. Not knowing the entire situation, I've made a number of assumptions here. If I'm wrong-- if this was an incredibly diligent, hard-working man who chose to work for non-profits and/or gave away all of his earnings to those less fortunate, than I will delete the following post.

-RH

****POST DELETED, BASED ON ADDITIONAL INFO SUPPLIED BY THREAD STARTER****
 

Don't like ads? Remove them while supporting the forum. Subscribe.

OP
OP
H

hazelwood

PARKED
Dec 9, 2007
6
0
8
Russ H. said:
He was only concerned as it affected HIM. He didn't care about others. His attitude is totally "WIIFM"?

That sense of entitlement had served him well: For years he eaked out an existence, not getting ahead, and watching others progress.
He was actually fairly active in the neighborhood for a few years, he was on the neighborhood board and helped out at neighborhood events (like with the summer ice cream social and holiday season events). Then he kinda fizzled out, around the time a local builder was denied a building permit for apartments, and complained that it was hard to care a lot when your neighbors are trying to zone you out.
Since he was paying more to live there than the average homeowner, he thought the homeowners were the ones with a sense of entitlement.

Russ H. said:
This is delusional.There are MILLIONS of Americans (many w/young families) who live at or below the poverty line, and they are not "in the ghetto". Tens of millions of single people can make much more money, and don't live in the ghetto.

Unless he had some serious disability issues, he sounds like a slacker. Nothing wrong w/slackers. Unless you want to have nice things, or live a lifestyle that requires money.
There was nowhere else for him to live in town (where his main job was), it was either the student "ghetto" or in a larger nearby city with a real underclass, or out in the boondocks, and he didn't like any of those alternatives. Of course, neither did the rest of us, that's why we lived where we did. He didn't seem like a slacker, he was always working at least the equivalent of a full time job (which was some oddball office thing which was somewhat seasonal), and sometimes he also did other short-term gigs like call center or janitor work. If someone called him a slacker he would challenge them to try doing HIS job for two weeks and then offer their opinion.

Now how does this sound? Like a person who is trying to get ahead, or someone who is perfectly comfortable going nowhere?

I don't know, he didn't seem comfortable with where he was at, but he didn't see any way to get ahead. Had bad teeth and bad credit after a business startup failed when his health did and he landed in the hospital for several months. After he got out of the hospital he seemed to have lost whatever hope he might have had.

Russ H. said:
Clearly, he's wrong. He has done nothing to improve the neighborhood-- but all of the homeowners who spent thousands on mortgages and yearly maintanance *were* improving things-- just by contributing their time, money, and efforts.
I mentioned things he was doing at least for a while in the neighborhood. If he was paying more than most of the homeowners, it's hard to argue that *all* of the homeowners were improving things and he was not.

Russ H. said:
It comes back to that old saw, "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem"

Was he the type of guy to walk down the block and pick up trash from the sidewalk? To help a neighbor shovel their walk, or rake leaves? To invite folks over for a beer, or a barbeque?

I'd guess no, but hey, I don't know the guy.
He did help out some with neighborhood trash and litter, which was intermittently a real problem, and with cleanup after the occasional ice storm with downed tree limbs.. The neighborhood problems were pretty much all coming from the student rentals, and he made a conscious effort to distinguish himself and the property he rented from those causing the problems. As a middle-aged renter, he was quite innocuous as a neighbor and didn't contribute to the problems associated with college-age renters.

Russ H. said:
Gee, my grandparents are all dead. They worked hard their entire lives to make sure that their kids (and grandkids) would have a better life. They also helped their neighbors and friends.
Russ H. said:
Mixed metaphors here. There's a difference between working for a living, and shooting yourself in the foot. Working for a living means earning enough to provide for your needs. Clearly, he was working to just cover his needs-- and had been doing this not for a week, or a few months. He'd been just "getting by" for DECADES.
Since he was working full time, at jobs which sounded pretty crummy, I don't think he was slacking.

Russ H. said:
Shooting yourself in the foot implies that you are harming yourself-- hampering your own success or progress by self-sabotage.

Which is, in a sense, what this guy was doing, and had been doing for years. By making just enough to "get by" he was shooting himself in the foot.

It sounds like he was concerned about today, but didn't plan for next week.

The Very Poor think in terms of day to day, (daily cash, survival)

The Poor think in terms of week to week (paycheck to paycheck, cash it quickly)

The Middle Class think in terms of month to month (mortgage, monthly electric bill, etc)

The Rich think in terms of Year to year (How can I lower my taxes, what will my profits be this year, etc)

The Very Rich think in terms of decades (What will my real estate be worth in 10 yrs, creating new businesses, etc)

The very poor and poor are always thinking survival
The middle class is thinking comfort
The rich and very rich are thinking freedom"[/I]

(from an earlier thread)

Nothing will satisfy a person like this. There was a guy over on the richdad forums who we debated with for *years*-- he worked at McDonalds and had a victim mentality. There was no way he was going to succeed or advance. He was just *way* too good at convincing himself that whatever he tried to do to get ahead, "it wouldn't work".

Last but not least, it needs to be said: Renters are here today, gone tomorrow. If you want to stay in a place, you save for years and buy a home. If you can't afford to live in the neighborhoods you love, then you either need to get more money in your life, or move to a place you *can* afford.

I couldn't afford to live where I wanted. I saved for close to 10 years, and had to move 40 minutes away from the place I loved in order to afford a home.

Did I complain? Heck no! I was deliriously happy to be a homeowner.

What it all comes down to is perspective. And motivation.

This guy's perspective was "what's in it for me?". He was not interested in helping others-- only himself.

And he was only motivated to do enough to get by.

As others have said, this is very slow lane thinking.

:slow:

I would spend as little time with a person like this as possible. They're takers-- draining my energy and resources, giving nothing in return.

-Russ H.
testing
 

Russ H

Gold Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
Jul 25, 2007
6,556
1,292
381
58
Napa Valley, CA
If he was paying more than most of the homeowners, it's hard to argue that *all* of the homeowners were improving things and he was not.
Hmmm . . . seems to me that things like a downpayment for a house, mortgage payments, maintenance, repairs, and property taxes, usually are more than what renters pay. But again, I'm assuming things here-- like the landlord pays for any repairs and and maintenance.

But hey, you know the facts. I don't. If the homeowners around there actually paid *less* for all of these things than he did w/his monthly rent, then, well, WOW.

As promised, I deleted my original post, Hazelwood.

-Russ H.
 

biophase

Legendary Contributor
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
FASTLANE INSIDER
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Summit Attendee
Speedway Pass
Jul 25, 2007
6,794
30,988
5,083
Scottsdale, AZ
Basically him and his friends were being forced out of the neighborhood because rents were increasing and they obviously weren't getting raises. So he was wondering why he should help make it a better place to live cause it would eventually cause him to have to move out.

I would have answered him in a few ways. First, his job isn't keeping up with inflation and just because his business failed doesn't mean that landlords don't have to keep up with inflation. He's never owned a home so he doesn't know the risk/reward. Would he be in the same position now if home values are decreasing, is he going to pay more rent cause the landlords are losing money now? I would have asked him if he expects a raise every year from his job? If he says 'yes' then ask him why shouldn't the landlord? If he says he's living in the same crummy apartment, tell him he's doing the same crummy job. Why should anyone get paid more next year? He just sounds like a bitter person.
 

Russ H

Gold Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
Jul 25, 2007
6,556
1,292
381
58
Napa Valley, CA
Jorge said:
So, we were misunderstanding Hazelwood's questions?
No, Jorge, Hazelwood started by telling us this man was:

"a middle-aged guy who had come to town as a student, never got ahead, and was watching the world pass him by. He had lived in town for maybe 25 years, the last 10 or 15 at the same address . . . He considered himself a "permanent renter" who was "living on the economic margin." He came to neighborhood association meetings and the rest of us regarded him as a sort of neighborhood Luddite, trying to gum up the works of progress."
But the description of him has become more flattering as the thread progresses.

-Russ H.
 

Jorge

Bronze Contributor
Oct 5, 2007
583
103
32
37
Mendoza, Argentina
Ok, so I searched on google for "Luddite" since I didn't knew what it meant.

This is the wikipedia description:

"The Luddites were a social movement of British textile artisans in the early nineteenth century who protested — often by destroying sewing machines — against the changes produced by the Industrial Revolution, which they felt threatened their livelihood."

So basically they were against progress because that implied that they couldn't keep doing the same thing forever in order to make their money....:smxE:

Oh well, I'm going to leave this thread, I don't want to offend anybody.
 

Create an account or login to comment

You must be a member in order to leave a comment

Create account

Create an account on our community. It's easy!

Log in

Already have an account? Log in here.


Fastlane Insiders

View the forum AD FREE.
Private, unindexed content
Detailed process/execution threads
Monthly conference calls with doers
Ideas needing execution, more!

Join Fastlane Insiders.

Sponsored Offers

Lex DeVille's - Advanced Freelance Udemy Courses!
-- HALLOWEEN SPECIAL STARTS TODAY! Get any of my courses at Udemy's current best price through Friday! Use code: HALLOWEEN Use any of the links...
Top Bottom